Friday, February 20, 2004

USA Today: Politically Correct Sports

Today the USA Today unveiled its Ten Toughest Athletes list. Drum roll please ...

10: Jockey Julie Krone
9: NBA's Shaquille O'Neal
8: Golfer Tiger Woods
7: Golfer Annika Sorenstam
6: NHL's Scott Stevens
5: NFL's Ray Lewis
4: Cycling's Lance Armstrong
3: NFL's Steve McNair
2: NBA's Allen Iverson
1: NFL's Brett Favre

This list is one of the most absurd things I have ever seen in my life. First, let me point out that there are no boxers and only one hockey player on this list. Meanwhile, USA Today gives us Tiger Woods and two ladies. I seriously doubt that Tiger Woods, let alone a female jockey, would like to find himself alone in a dark alley with Lennox Lewis or Roy Jones, Jr. I suppose that I can only speak for myself, but if I needed a tough presence around, I'd opt for linebackers Brian Urlacher or Lavar Arrington before I'd call for Annika Sorenstam. Heck, I'd rather have Josh the Newfoundland than Annika.

I'm sure that Julie Krone has accomplished great things in her sport. And, I have immense respect for Annika Sorenstam. But let's not get carried away here. Annika and Julie aren't even the toughest female athletes around. If we absolutely must include women on a list like this, at least let's include women who take some physical punishment in their sports. Women like Mia Hamm, Diana Taurasi or Laila Ali. Even still, I'd shudder to see any of these very tough women try to catch a pass going across the middle in an NFL game.

Comparing women to men by forcing them onto lists like USA Today's trivializes the legitimately great accomplishments of female athletes. Let women be women and let tough guys be just that -- guys.